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Metal-Absorbing Plants May Offer Greener Mining Future

The mining industry and mining equipment suppliers are always keeping an eye on environmentally beneficial solutions to their operations. This has led many in the industry to turn their attention to an exciting new scientific discovery; one that promises to show how metal-absorbing plants may offer a greener mining future. Creating specific mining machinery to complete this task is easier said than done, so let’s take a look at where Mother Nature may be able to step in.

What are metal-absorbing plants?

While these plants and what they do may sound like it's ripped from the pages of a science-fiction novel, these amazing organisms perform a very real and very vital function on our planet. These plants (also called Phytoremediation) can absorb, contain and eliminate concentrations of soil contaminants like oil, metals, pesticides, to toxic waste and even chemical elements used in explosives. They are also effective in areas that require more attention resulting from ongoing mining operations and activity from mining equipment suppliers.

For the past two decades, these plants have been employed in areas contaminated with everything from lead to uranium. What makes plants in this group different from other plants is their ability to absorb these potentially dangerous substances at levels that would be toxic to other plants.

A bouquet of soldiers

Different Plants in this category are good for absorbing different things from the soil. Individually they have unique characteristics that help support varying environmental aspects. Here are a few examples of these plants and what they can do:

  • Sunflowers: Used for removing arsenic from the soil and was used to remove Caesium-137 and strontium-90 after the Chernobyl accident.

  • Willow: Applied in removing cadmium, Zinc and Copper

  • Alpine Pennycress: is good at absorbing cadmium and zinc and copper

  • Indian Mustard: Has been known to absorb lead along with other plants like ragweed hemp and popular

  • Sugar Beets: Commonly used for the extraction of salt from areas flooded by seawater

  • Rinorea Niccolifera: Scientist recently discovered this plant in the Philippines with the ability to absorb large amounts of nickel


What this means for mining

Metal absorbing plants may offer the mining industry an inexpensive and effective way to help clean soil. If these plants can be used for widespread activities they may also offer a more cost-effective future.

These plant's ability to suck up heavy metals from the soil through their roots and store them in their stems also provides future economic opportunities. They can be harvested; the metals collected and stored for later use. It is hoped that these plants will be able to usher in a new frontier of environmentally-friendly mining and provide a safe future for everyone. Maybe one day we’ll see mining equipment suppliers offering technology that can do the same, but for now Mother Nature seems to be on our side.

African mining machinery supplier

As one of the leading mining equipment suppliers offering earth moving equipment hire for the African mining industry, we here at African Plant and Equipment always do our best to stay on top of all the latest advances in the industry. Contact African Plant & Equipment to discover how we can assist with your project.